Facebook trials Data Transfer Project exclusively in Ireland

2 Dec 2019

Image: © Thaspol/Stock.adobe.com

Facebook has announced the first product of the Data Transfer Project, an open-source initiative to create a data portability platform.

Facebook has today (2 December) unveiled a new initiative to create a data portability platform, the Data Transfer Project, which it has started to test “exclusively” in Ireland. The new service will allow users to transfer their data from one social network to another online platform.

For example, with a tool built directly into the Facebook app, users will be able to move Facebook photos and videos directly to Google Photos. The feature is now available for Facebook users in Ireland, and the rest of the world will gain access in the first half of 2020.

The project uses services’ existing APIs and authorisation mechanisms to access data, and then uses service-specific adapters to transfer the data into a common format so that it can be shared into the new services’ APIs.

Steve Satterfield, director of privacy and public policy at Facebook, explained: “At Facebook, we believe that if you share data with one service, you should be able to move it to another. That’s the principle of data portability, which gives people control and choice while also encouraging innovation.”

As it is in the testing stage, Facebook has said the tool will be refined in the coming months, subject to feedback from users and stakeholders.

Satterfield continued: “We want to build practical portability solutions people can trust and use effectively. To foster that trust, people and online services need clear rules about what kinds of data should be portable and who is responsible for protecting that data as it moves to different services.”

Privacy focus

The move comes as part of a broader campaign from Facebook to promote privacy and transparency in the wake of various data scandals that have harmed the company’s public image.

The company recently incurred a $5bn fine from the US Federal Trade Commission in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. There is also a growing antitrust investigation in the US looking into Facebook, alongside fellow tech goliaths Amazon, Apple and Google.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg debuted a new privacy-focused direction for the company earlier this year, characterised by a shift towards encrypted messages.

In November, Facebook also revealed a new parent company rebrand, which has seen all of its apps – WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook – marked as being a part of one company under the corporate logo of ‘FACEBOOK’.

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic